Run, run, run.
That’s all we seemed to do in the first week of pre-season training, which was intensive to try and build up our fitness.
I knew most of the lads from being on trial at the end of the 2010/11 season before being offered an Apprenticeship at the Club, and Kortney Hause had also signed a Scholarship from my former Club West Ham, so I didn’t feel entirely like the new boy.
We started using the ball more in the second week and then in the 3rd week we went on our pre-season tour to Slovenia.
After meeting at the training ground we travelled down to London the night before to be closer to the airport for the morning flight to Graz in Austria.
After waking up, we all met for breakfast, before we made our way to the terminal. The flight went well, however there was a slight bit of turbulence mid way through.
We arrived at Graz with Deqwon delaying us because he couldn’t find his passport. That came as no surprise!
We then drove from the airport across the border to Slovenia by bus.
Soon after we arrived at the hotel, which had fantastic mountain views, we were welcomed, then shown to our rooms where we would be staying for the next week; they were excellent!
Half an hour later we went straight out for a run, which then led into a short but very sharp training session, this was mainly to get the travelling out of our legs.
The training session included a bit of keep-ball followed by some 6 a side games.
By the way Adams & Westley (Sam Westley, fellow Apprentice) were on the same team and we smashed it!
After the session we came back for our showers followed by a variety of nice foods for dinner. We then got some time to relax in each others rooms before we had a team meeting involving rules for the tour.
Overall it was a very positive start to the tour, but by this time we were all ready for bed, knowing we had another early start in the morning.
On the second day we began with an early morning run, with an unusual sight for us; seeing a snake on the side of the road! The lads felt this experience was refreshing and a good change to the fitness routine in Birmingham.
An hour after breakfast, we walked to the training pitches not far from our hotel. During the training session we practiced many aspects of receiving, retaining and shifting the ball quickly as a team.
The training pitches are built into a fantastic landscape and we appreciated a different but pleasant outlook.
The squad felt training was a success because each and everyone one of us learnt from the session. Finally we played an 8v8 game at the end of the session and after sweltering graft the game ended…… 1-1. PENALTIES!
Everyone successfully slotted away their penalties against keepers Nick Townsend and Callum Preston until non voluntary Brad Gascoigne, approached the ball gingerly and punched it wide.
At lunch time we all enjoyed the multi cultural foods provided for us at the hotel.
An hour after lunch we split into 2 groups consisting of our attacking and defending forces.
The defending players had a gym session first with Chris Wright, our fitness coach and Sports Scientist.
Whilst the defending force were in the gym, the attacking players had a technical session specifically working on attacking moves and end product in their games (a vital aspect for forward players in the game).
Mid way through the sessions the attacking and defending players now swapped activities.
This enabled the players to strengthen their bodies in preparation for the upcoming season, also to educate players on things they need to do in regards to their position.
After a long, determined but beneficial day all players went back to their rooms to relax or popped off to the local shop.
Later that evening, bright spark Phil Robinson (Head of Academy Recruitment) had an idea for a golf challenge.
Simply, the closest to the pin wins. Each participant was given one practice swing then two attempts of the challenge. Sam Westley stepped up first. After a respectful practice swing, he woefully swung two trickling shots.
After a series of fairly abysmal attempts, the worst was yet to come. Confident Welsh wizard Leon ‘Rooney’ Newell came forward. Leon steadily set his feet and grip ‘correctly’. Newell then swiftly swung backwards before applying all his Welsh might into his disgusting forward air shot.
That’s not all…. After missing the ball on his first attempt, butter fingers Newell’s club slipped from his grasp in his second, and flew through the air, landing further than the golf ball.
Calm and collective physiotherapist Carl, swung his club gracefully hitting his first ball the closest to the pin. The day was all round success and all the lads enjoyed it thoroughly.